Knee-Jerk Reactions

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”                  I Peter 3:9

My daily life would be easier if some of the drivers on the freeway exhibited more courteous behavior. I say this tongue-in-cheek because I wish my behavior always measured up. My knee-jerk reaction when somebody cuts me off is to get them back; in the least I am tempted to give a stare down.

Beyond driving in big city traffic, life provides opportunity after opportunity to respond to wounds ranging from a subtle insult or harsh words to an overt act of deception or abuse. Left to our resources, we want to lash out, tear down, withhold, or pay back in pronounced ways like intentional injury to a person’s reputation or making their life harder.

I think about how it looks to “repay evil with blessing” when somebody hurts me. I am recently challenged by a practical approach in Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore. The chapter entitled “Overcoming Forgiveness” proposes praying for the person to whom you are extending forgiveness using Scripture. I love this idea as seen in the examples below of an active stance of returning a blessing.

I pray for ______________________that he/she will trust in You with all his/her heart and not lean on his/her understanding; if in all of his/her ways he/she acknowledges You, You will make his/her path straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

I pray for ______________________ that he/she not be carnally minded, which is death, but he/she be spiritually minded, which is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

I pray, Lord, that You will show _________________________ Your ways, and teach him/her Your paths; guide him/her in Your truth and teach him/her, for You are God.  (Psalm 25.4-5)

Father, my heart’s desire and my prayer is for __________________________’s salvation. (Romans 10:1)

Returning a blessing may also take the form of offering a genuine affirmation for something positive the person says and/or does or expressing gratitude for a gesture on their part, even when the person’s motives remain uncertain.

Returning a blessing may mean exercising self-restraint when a conversation presents an open door to color another person’s view of the person. Perhaps God calls you and me to return a blessing at times by facilitating the person’s well-being on some level.

I adore the final portion of I Peter 3:9, motivating believers to return a blessing because we are called to inherit a blessing. Warren Wiersbe in the Bible Exposition Commentary explains, “As Christians, we can live on one of three levels. We can return evil for good, which is the satanic level. We can return good for good and evil for evil, which is the human level. Or, we can return good for evil, which is the divine level. Jesus is the perfect example of this latter approach (1 Peter 2:21–23). As God’s loving children, we must do more than give “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Matt. 5:38–48), which is the basis for justice. We must operate on the basis of mercy, for that is the way God deals with us.”

Sisters, let’s keep it real so we know we are not alone. What knee-jerk reactions make it difficult to return a blessing?    ~Laura  **to hear more about how a dear sister moved through hurt, read Kim’s Story, “Protecting Myself from Heartache”

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